Some students cannot perform maximally in their academics as a result of poor educational system in Nigeria like incessant strikes, insufficient materials, threats from lecturer and cult activities. Interestingly, when they opportune to be in a very good educational system abroad, they will perform excellently.
The case is with Emmanuel Ohuabunwa who was the best graduating student from John Hopkins University, United States of America. Ohuabunwa, who hails from Abia State was adjudged as having the highest honours during the graduation that was held on May 24, 2012. He made a Grade Point Average of 3.98 out of 4.0 to bag a degree in Neurosciences in the University.
For his efforts, he won a scholarship to Yale University to pursue a degree in Medicine. Besides, he has been inducted into Phi Beta Kappa Society, a prestigious honour group that features membership of 17 US Presidents, 37 US Supreme Court Justices, and 136 Nobel Prize winners.
Emmanuel was born in Lagos, Nigeria and attended Lilly Fields Primary School, Lagos. He left Nigeria after his Junior Secondary School education at Air Force Comprehensive School, Ibadan, Oyo State. Attending Fondren Middle School, which was in the middle of the ghetto was one of the darkest years for him because he encountered a lot of peer pressure. Some of the students, ignorant about Africa, bullied and called him names such as ‘African booty scratcher’ because to them, Africans were dirty and scratched their butts all the time.
Some even asked if he lived in mud huts and ate faeces for breakfast. “I remember one day, when I was walking to the school bus, a boy came from behind and punched me in the face, called me an African and walked away. It took everything in me not to retaliate. I knew that God had put me in the U.S for a purpose and it did not involve fighting or selling drugs or doing the wrong things,” Ohuabunwa said.
His experience during that year gave him a thick skin. He learned to stand for what he thought was right even when the opposition seemed insurmountable. He also learned to look at the positive in all situations. Adding, Ohuabunwa said that, “Even though these kids were bullying me, I was still gaining an opportunity to school in America and nothing would stop me from making the best of this opportunity.”
But in spite of this humiliation and racial prejudice against him, the first in a family of three was not discouraged. He faced his studies and was always coming top in his class. After he completed his middle school education, he passed the entrance examination to DeBakey High School for Health Professions. It was at this school that his interest in neurosciences and medicine started.
Worried that his parents might not be able to sponsor him to the university, Ohuabunwa purposed to work very hard. He did and when the result of the PSAT came, he performed so well that he won the National Achievement Scholar. By virtue of this award, he received certificates of recognition from various organisations including senators from the Congress of both Texas and the US. He also received scholarship from the University of Houston; Rice University, Texas A&M Honours College and many more. He had also won the Principal’s Award during the annual awards ceremony at DeBakey High School.
But his breakthrough came when he won the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation full scholarship to any University of his choice. He worked hard and gained admission to Johns Hopkins University to study Neurosciences.
Speaking on what he considers to be the missing links in the education sector of Nigeria when compared with that in the US, Emmanuel said unpredictable academic calendar, corruption, examination malpractice and inadequate funding were some of the problems confronting his home country’s university sector.
Ohuabunwa who is absolutely interested in the health care policy decisions in Nigeria, hopes to return back to the country in order to join hands with the leaders to contribute his quota to the development of Nigeria.